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Thoughts on Shimano Sora Groupset for a New Bike

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Road Cycling “It is by riding a bicycle that you learn the contours of a country best, since you have to sweat up the hills and coast down them. Thus you remember them as they actually are, while in a motor car only a high hill impresses you, and you have no such accurate remembrance of country you have driven through as you gain by riding a bicycle.” -- Ernest Hemingway

Thoughts on Shimano Sora Groupset for a New Bike

Old 08-23-21, 02:39 PM
  #26  
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Originally Posted by Not2Bright View Post
I appreciate the feedback. I do not doubt the better groupsets are better all around and bikes fitted with theses usually have better everything else too like wheels and brakes. I guess the one thing that struck me as odd was two different shops telling me the modern 9 speed Sora is not as good as the older 9 speeds. This makes no sense to me, why make it worse. It makes me wonder if they make more margin on the higher end stuff or just trying to sell what they have available.



My thinking is that for me having never used top tier equipment I won’t miss anything, I can use the saved money elsewhere and having 2 other 9 speeds I have some interchangeable components if I ever need to rob Peter to pay Paul.
Ultegra 9sp felt nicer than current 9sp Sora. Materials were different. Not saying its worth the $ to go nicer, just that the tech trickles down but the materials dont necessarily trickle down. Maybe a hard plastic is used somewhere instead of metal or cabon, for example.

My wife's road bike has Sora- its worked perfectly for probably 6 years and I expect itll work perfectly for another 6 years.

With how much you ride, I would be more concerned with wheels, brakes, and tires than drivetrain level.
A Sora drivetrain can be set up with quality cables to shift great. But at that price point, the wheels will be heavy, tires cheap and heavy, and brakes may not feel the greatest.
New quality tires and a swap of brake calipers and/or pads can make a huge difference and not break the bank. New brake housing can also help make the braking feel much nicer.
Wheels are the more expensive change, and maybe you dont need to change em, but there is a decent chance itll lighten things up and change the ride feel.

I would rather have a $1250 Sora bike and spend $500 on new wheels, tires, and brake pads than have a bone stock $1750 Tiagra bike.
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Old 08-24-21, 04:33 AM
  #27  
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I found the TREK Domane AL lineup interesting in that they all feature complete Shimano groupsets including brakes except for the AL 3 (Sora) and AL 2 (Claris) which have Tektro. They even spec Shimano chains instead of the ubiquitous KMC (nothing against KMC). However a call to the local TREK dealer and I was told they are trickling in and price increases are possible and part substitutions are possible too. Then they want a buy commitment to hold any bike coming in even though I have never seen it or sat on it and took a spin to see if it fits or if I even like it.



From what I gather from all the input I will probably pickup a mostly Sora equipped bike and upgrade parts as they wear out or prove to be inadequate. Original tires probably will be worn out in less than a year and I know original wheels are usually cheep. Brakes are overrated, all they do is slow you down!



So if and when I get this new road bike I’ll report back if disappointed with the Sora groupset but I doubt I will be. I ocasionally ride an old 3x5 setup with friction shift and have a blast. Taken it on rides up to 40 miles without a complaint. Being in my mid 50s everything available today is light years ahead of what my generation grew up with.
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Old 08-24-21, 07:02 AM
  #28  
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Originally Posted by mstateglfr View Post
A Sora drivetrain can be set up with quality cables to shift great. But at that price point, the wheels will be heavy, tires cheap and heavy, and brakes may not feel the greatest.

New quality tires and a swap of brake calipers and/or pads can make a huge difference and not break the bank. New brake housing can also help make the braking feel much nicer.
Wheels are the more expensive change, and maybe you dont need to change em, but there is a decent chance itll lighten things up and change the ride feel.

I would rather have a $1250 Sora bike and spend $500 on new wheels, tires, and brake pads than have a bone stock $1750 Tiagra bike.
I have used Vuelta as a source for light enough, stiff enough, cheap enough wheels .... wheels and tires seem to make the biggest change in how a bike feels. Good brake cables are more important than new calipers, I'd say .... pretty sure Tektro's aluminum isn't all that much more flexible than Shimano's aluminum ...... $500 into a Sora bike sounds like exactly the right equation.
Originally Posted by Not2Bright View Post
So if and when I get this new road bike I’ll report back if disappointed with the Sora groupset but I doubt I will be. I ocasionally ride an old 3x5 setup with friction shift and have a blast. Taken it on rides up to 40 miles without a complaint. Being in my mid 50s everything available today is light years ahead of what my generation grew up with.
It's funny how many of us started of 42-pound Schwinn 10-speeds or gas-pipe steel dinosaurs with 3-speed IGH hubs and brake shoes like hockey pucks and had a blast riding. who now worry about a seven-gram difference between two parts.

I have an '83 Cannondale tourer with 3x7 I take out now and then .... I think it is 32 pounds with racks and all .... petrified aluminum frame, steel fork .... but once I get on the road it is just "the bike" and it works like any other bike for that ride. I surely do appreciate my "better" bikes---a Lot---but also need to be reminded of the time when a 32-lb 3x6 Cannondale with frictions shifters was "cutting edge" and the best bike in my stable by far.
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Old 08-24-21, 07:20 PM
  #29  
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At 2k miles per year, you will definitely appreciate better shifting and tighter tolerances. I actually have trouble getting in ~1000-1500 miles per year, but I appreciate my Ultegra bikes when I'm out there - crisp shifting, and the newer stuff is even really good under load (try shifting on a 10% hill when your RPM has dropped well below 60...).

Would Sora be 'bad?' Not at all. My friend has a Jamis that's equipped with Sora shifters and derailleurs, and everything worked well for 11 years before his front shifter broke internally - that said, I highly suspect his shifter broke because it was trying to pull a badly frayed cable through the housing. However, Sora is definitely weighty - I wouldn't be surprised if the Sora crank by itself was 1/2lbs more than a 105 crank (which isn't all that lightweight, either).

I originally wrote a whole paragraph regarding upgradeability, and how 105 would be a better platform to upgrade from, given inter-compatibility with years of R8000 and R9000, but then I realized there's another question that needs to be answered: do the bike shops in your area even have bikes in your size and price range right now? There's a chance that your shop is recommending a 105 bike because that's what he has in-stock.

Also, from someone who owns one: I would suggest staying away from the 11-34 11-speed cassette - the gears are super widely spaced in the 'cruising' zone. Best to find a compact crank and try sticking with an 11-30 if your legs can manage.
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Old 08-25-21, 04:51 AM
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Originally Posted by mstateglfr View Post
Ultegra 9sp felt nicer than current 9sp Sora. Materials were different. Not saying its worth the $ to go nicer, just that the tech trickles down but the materials dont necessarily trickle down. Maybe a hard plastic is used somewhere instead of metal or cabon, for example.

My wife's road bike has Sora- its worked perfectly for probably 6 years and I expect itll work perfectly for another 6 years.

With how much you ride, I would be more concerned with wheels, brakes, and tires than drivetrain level.
A Sora drivetrain can be set up with quality cables to shift great. But at that price point, the wheels will be heavy, tires cheap and heavy, and brakes may not feel the greatest.
New quality tires and a swap of brake calipers and/or pads can make a huge difference and not break the bank. New brake housing can also help make the braking feel much nicer.
Wheels are the more expensive change, and maybe you dont need to change em, but there is a decent chance itll lighten things up and change the ride feel.

I would rather have a $1250 Sora bike and spend $500 on new wheels, tires, and brake pads than have a bone stock $1750 Tiagra bike.
I can't believe people are spending $1200-1700 on Sora and Tiagra equipped bikes. My old $350 Fuji Newest came with Sora. You used to be able to get 105s at around the $800 mark.
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Old 08-25-21, 05:39 AM
  #31  
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Originally Posted by pgjackson View Post
I can't believe people are spending $1200-1700 on Sora and Tiagra equipped bikes. My old $350 Fuji Newest came with Sora. You used to be able to get 105s at around the $800 mark.
I got a sora equiped bike for $250. It works completely fine but I would honestly feel like **** if I had a $1250 bike with sora.
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Old 08-25-21, 06:11 AM
  #32  
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Originally Posted by DonkeyShow View Post
I got a sora equiped bike for $250. It works completely fine but I would honestly feel like **** if I had a $1250 bike with sora.
Exactly. I wouldn't even consider a $1000+ bike with anything less than 105.
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Old 08-25-21, 06:20 AM
  #33  
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Thanks aliasfox; having never ridden anything with more than a 9 speed cassette I guess what I really want to know is will I appreciate the extra $650 spent on a 105 equipped bike versus the same frame equipped with Sora. That is a question only I can answer but sinsce I can only buy one bike I guess I’ll never quite know for sure. Will I say “Wow! This is the best $600 I ever spent” or will it be more like “Well this is better but not $600 better”



As far as what is available locally right now the answer is not much but stuff is coming in. A shop has a 105 equipped Specialized but it is not a bike I want. Same shop has a Cannondale Synapse with Tiagra.



As someone who could loose 20 pounds I can’t use a weight savings argument. I have been taking note of the gears I use to climb on the routes I ride and the hardest climb I do at 29 gear inches, most other hills it’s 40. An 11-30 with the compact gets me down to 30 so that is right there on the edge with no wiggle room for my toughest climb. I think I will draw the line at 32 for the big cog and nothing smaller.



Once I’m out there pedaling and the heart rate is up I’ll probably be happy no matter what I end up with and probably have a week or two of buyers remorse too, that’s normal when I spend over $1,000 on anything.
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Old 08-25-21, 06:23 AM
  #34  
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Originally Posted by pgjackson View Post
Exactly. I wouldn't even consider a $1000+ bike with anything less than 105.
Ouch! Unfortunately we are falling victim to supply and demand as well as old fashioned inflation.
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Old 08-25-21, 06:50 AM
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Originally Posted by Not2Bright View Post
Ouch! Unfortunately we are falling victim to supply and demand as well as old fashioned inflation.
The used market is pretty good right now, at least in my area. There no real difference between a well maintained used bike and a new bike you bought two months ago.
For example, on FB marketplace in my town right now there is a CAAD SuperSix, full carbon, with 105 for $750. Looks to be in great condition. If I was looking for a new bike this would be a great deal.

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Old 08-25-21, 09:59 AM
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Originally Posted by pgjackson View Post
I can't believe people are spending $1200-1700 on Sora and Tiagra equipped bikes. My old $350 Fuji Newest came with Sora. You used to be able to get 105s at around the $800 mark.
$350 for a new Sora Fuji Newest? Even this Fuji Newest from 2010 had an msrp of $875. So yours was purchased at a deep discount somewhere? Its from 9-15 years ago too, right? example- https://www.bikepedia.com/QuickBike/...spx?item=20138
Using $350 as a benchmark for what a Sora bike(and therefore higher level bikes) should cost is foolish as it is based on an extreme example rather than anything close to the average. Also keep in mind, your purchase is most likely from over 10 years ago with Sora from 2 generations ago, an FSA crank, Tektro brakes, and oh yeah- I hear costs have changed a touch in the last decade.

The deals of 2017 where Raleigh and Diamondback had 105 bikes for $800 if you knew a discount code are long gone. That was totally unsustainable and its easy to see since it isnt replicated by any bike shop level brand. The only internet direct brand I know of that comes close to your arbitrary $800 for 105 requirement is BikesDirect with a 105 Gran Premio Elite 105 for $900...though they take shortcuts so it comes with an FSA crank, tektro brakes, and a basic 520 branded steel frame. Even all the other internet brands have 105 bikes for much more(like twice that).

I used to be able to buy gas for under $1 when I first started driving in '97. Thats just a memory now, for obvious reasons.




Originally Posted by DonkeyShow View Post
I got a sora equiped bike for $250. It works completely fine but I would honestly feel like **** if I had a $1250 bike with sora.
What new bike is being sold for $250 with Sora? And is that full Sora, or just the shifters and derailleurs?
Its great if you can find bikes for so cheap- let the board know where these new deals are.
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Old 08-25-21, 10:24 AM
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Craigslist, scooped it last november. Its one of the 10+ year old models you seem soo fond of. Lots of nice bikes for sale around here(DC) still. Id sell mine on for about $350 + shipping tbh I wouldnt mind trying something different.
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Old 08-25-21, 12:22 PM
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Originally Posted by DonkeyShow View Post
Craigslist, scooped it last november. Its one of the 10+ year old models you seem soo fond of. Lots of nice bikes for sale around here(DC) still. Id sell mine on for about $350 + shipping tbh I wouldnt mind trying something different.
Good lord. You are referencing the price of a 10 year old used bike? Well thats a worthless datapoint when it comes to how much a bike with Sora should cost from a shop in 2021.

A bike I bought in 2015 for $360 had 600 tricolor from 25 years earlier, but that isnt reason for me to think a new Ultegra bike should cost less.
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Old 08-25-21, 12:32 PM
  #39  
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Originally Posted by pgjackson View Post
The used market is pretty good right now, at least in my area. There no real difference between a well maintained used bike and a new bike you bought two months ago.
For example, on FB marketplace in my town right now there is a CAAD SuperSix, full carbon, with 105 for $750. Looks to be in great condition. If I was looking for a new bike this would be a great deal.
You don't know how many rocks that Supersix has bounced off, and that's the difference between any used bike where you don't personally know the previous owner, and a new bike. The OP is clearly asking about buying new, and $1000 is the market rate for new Sora-equipped bikes these days. And that was true before Covid.

I bought my CAAD10/105 from a big box store, in late 2013, outgoing year's model, heavily discounted to $1100 (MSRP $1500, IIRC). It was an absolute steal going by the prices for comparable bikes at the time. I am not sure how far out of date your "I wouldn't even consider a $1000+ bike with anything less than 105" pricing is, but it's older than that.
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Old 08-25-21, 12:36 PM
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These conversations about prices do make me regret not buying up stocks of leftovers at the end of 2019 - I remember seeing ads at NYC bike shops where one could get a CAAD10 w/105 for $1000 out the door, or a Bianchi Intrepida 105 for $1700+tax... imagine how much they could sell for in 2020's market!
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Old 08-25-21, 12:48 PM
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Originally Posted by Leinster View Post
You don't know how many rocks that Supersix has bounced off, and that's the difference between any used bike where you don't personally know the previous owner, and a new bike. The OP is clearly asking about buying new, and $1000 is the market rate for new Sora-equipped bikes these days. And that was true before Covid.

I bought my CAAD10/105 from a big box store, in late 2013, outgoing year's model, heavily discounted to $1100 (MSRP $1500, IIRC). It was an absolute steal going by the prices for comparable bikes at the time. I am not sure how far out of date your "I wouldn't even consider a $1000+ bike with anything less than 105" pricing is, but it's older than that.
I am glad I am not in the market for a new bike. If I was in the market I'd buy used right now. If Sora is the best I will get new at that price I think I'll take my chances used.
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Old 08-25-21, 01:09 PM
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Originally Posted by aliasfox View Post
These conversations about prices do make me regret not buying up stocks of leftovers at the end of 2019 - I remember seeing ads at NYC bike shops where one could get a CAAD10 w/105 for $1000 out the door, or a Bianchi Intrepida 105 for $1700+tax... imagine how much they could sell for in 2020's market!
That CAAD10, unless you mean a CAAD12, must have been a 6-year old bike that had been sitting in the back of a warehouse; it probably had 10 speed 105 (like mine). Yes, that was a good price for a non-used 105-equipped bike in 2019, but is still not comparable to today's used prices.

I think we all wish we'd bought bikes in late 2019. Or Tesla in 2010. Or Apple in 1998.
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Old 08-25-21, 01:10 PM
  #43  
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Originally Posted by pgjackson View Post
I am glad I am not in the market for a new bike. If I was in the market I'd buy used right now. If Sora is the best I will get new at that price I think I'll take my chances used.
Sora is good now. It's not the Sora you were avoiding when you were last in the new market.
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Old 08-25-21, 01:23 PM
  #44  
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Originally Posted by Leinster View Post
That CAAD10, unless you mean a CAAD12, must have been a 6-year old bike that had been sitting in the back of a warehouse; it probably had 10 speed 105 (like mine). Yes, that was a good price for a non-used 105-equipped bike in 2019, but is still not comparable to today's used prices.

I think we all wish we'd bought bikes in late 2019. Or Tesla in 2010. Or Apple in 1998.
Nah, CAAD10s were made until very recently as a less expensive proposition than a CAAD12. There was even a resurrected CAAD8 frame in 2016-2018 IIRC. The bike was likely a 2018 - it's been a few years since I saw that ad, but the bike definitely wasn't 'six years old.' If we're talking about older bikes, I saw a R6800 equipped Moots Vamoots in the summer of 2019 for $3,400. If I hadn't just gotten my Lynskey...
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Old 08-25-21, 03:45 PM
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Is there anywhere you can actually buy a Sora groupset?
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Old 08-25-21, 04:35 PM
  #46  
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Originally Posted by Leinster View Post
Sora is good now. It's not the Sora you were avoiding when you were last in the new market.
What is the Shimano groupset hierarchy now? Sora used to be their lowest level found on entry level road bikes, then Tiagra, 105, Ultegra, Dura Ace. Saw some Clara and Tourney on some new bikes that were in the $1000-2000 range. What are those?
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Old 08-25-21, 06:08 PM
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Originally Posted by Sy Reene View Post
Is there anywhere you can actually buy a Sora groupset?
Amazon seems to have the shifters and derailleurs. Not a full groupkit all together, but it's out there.
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Old 08-25-21, 07:05 PM
  #48  
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Originally Posted by Not2Bright View Post
Thanks aliasfox; having never ridden anything with more than a 9 speed cassette I guess what I really want to know is will I appreciate the extra $650 spent on a 105 equipped bike versus the same frame equipped with Sora. That is a question only I can answer but sinsce I can only buy one bike I guess I’ll never quite know for sure. Will I say “Wow! This is the best $600 I ever spent” or will it be more like “Well this is better but not $600 better”
If this is going to be "your bike" for the next many years ... probably get 105. it will likely last longer if nothing else.

My other question would be, what other upgrades come with the 105? Same wheels and ties, same cockpit? Usually the better bike has better parts. That would also be part of the decision. Wheels and tires can really change the character of a bike.

It really comes down to budget. I look at bikes as investments, and the more I spend up front, the more I (usually) enjoy riding, and since I am amortizing the cost out over ten or more years .... I am bad at math but that is something like sixteen cents a day. Definitely worth it.

I have Ultegra on one bike, 105 on two, Tiagra and Sora 9 on one and Tiagra 10 on ones, and one which had Claris and Sora which now has a whole mess of different bits. I have to say I am not sure the difference functionally between Ultegra and 105 is pure placebo. yes, it is lighter, but I am not, so that isn't really relevant, The Ultegra brakes my be a touch better, but the tires are different. The shifting is amazing, almost thoughtless, with both systems. Generally the stuff stays adjusted until the cables are about to break.

If you pan to ride 2K or more per year for the next ten years, you probably won't regret getting 105, particularly if it comes with some other upgrades, but even if not.

Of course, you probably won't regret Sora either .... it is really good. Reliable, functional, effective ....
Originally Posted by Not2Bright View Post
As someone who could loose 20 pounds I can’t use a weight savings argument. I have been taking note of the gears I use to climb on the routes I ride and the hardest climb I do at 29 gear inches, most other hills it’s 40. An 11-30 with the compact gets me down to 30 so that is right there on the edge with no wiggle room for my toughest climb. I think I will draw the line at 32 for the big cog and nothing smaller.
I could lose 20 pounds a week for a month and still be overweight ..... quality components still feel good.

I use the 11-28 or 11-32 cassettes and rarely need to go to 34x32, and I appreciate the tighter gearing. I have never tried the 11-34 cassette but it all about personal preference. When I am riding more relaxedly getting the perfect ratio is less important. if I am pulling a big load (aside from myself) or facing a stiff wind, the right ratio matters more, but if I am hauling a load I am probably on the bigger end of the cassette where big numerical jumps are not so big percentage-wise.
Originally Posted by Not2Bright View Post
Once I’m out there pedaling and the heart rate is up I’ll probably be happy no matter what I end up with and probably have a week or two of buyers remorse too, that’s normal when I spend over $1,000 on anything.
You got this.

Post pics after the purchase please.
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Old 08-25-21, 07:13 PM
  #49  
velojym
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I felt a little 'off' about mounting Sora levers on my Jake the Snake (originally 9 speed 105, circa 2000), but I wasn't ready for a complete drivetrain replacement, and it shifts the XT derailleur perfectly well. A few hundred miles later and I've pretty much forgotten my reluctance to use it. Mostly gear snobbery on my part, but I think Sora is a fine group for a non-racer.
I have Tiagra 4600 and 4700 groups on a couple bikes, and a full 105 group on my Kona ZIng Supreme that I recently built. I do feel the difference, but it isn't really enough to sour me from the "cheaper" groups. I did have to dive into some videos on the front derailleur setup for the 105, as it's a completely different beast.
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Old 08-25-21, 07:40 PM
  #50  
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Originally Posted by pgjackson View Post
What is the Shimano groupset hierarchy now? Sora used to be their lowest level found on entry level road bikes, then Tiagra, 105, Ultegra, Dura Ace. Saw some Clara and Tourney on some new bikes that were in the $1000-2000 range. What are those?
It's Claris.
I'm not aware of any Tourney or Claris bikes that cost near $2000 though. Almost all are at/under $1000.
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